And it’s like, why does it have to be that way? Why do they give you outfits where your butt sticks out? Why do they do things where it’s parent to child, where they’re talking down? And so I went to this board, and I said, “Alright, I want to make a change.” Now, the only thing that you will find in life that is consistent is change. It’s the only thing. Count on that. And if you haven’t figured that out yet, learn it today. It’s the only thing that is consistent. We spend our whole life trying not to deal with change, in many ways. Do the same thing every morning, brush our teeth a certain way, do this, do that, do this. We try not to deal with change, but the reality is change is always with us. It’s always going to be with us. It’s what makes it all work. We are always going to have change.
And there’s a book called Change or Die, and the book was interesting because it said when you confront people with the opportunity to correct something in their life to the point of where it will save their life, ninety percent of people will choose death rather than change. Human behavior change is a very, very difficult thing to get to happen, and as leaders in your organizations, when you have to bring change into the organization, a lot of times, the change agent becomes the sacrificial lamb. A lot of times you’re the person that has to sell that change, but the reality is you can’t live there afterwards because people are so unhappy with change.
So the challenge was very, very interesting to me, but when you look at what happened to the saddle makers when automobiles came out and the watchmakers when the quartz watch was invented and newspapers and music and movies, when you look at those people, what is happening and has happened to them is this world is digitizing and as we went from horses to cars, they became obsolete. And so my suggestion is enjoy the ride, because if energy stands still, we’ll all be dead. I mean, it’s all about motion. It’s all about forward motions. The right brain attributes. Artistry, empathy, taking the long view, pursuing the inspirational.
I had this drawn for a friend of mine. I ended up speaking in Alaska a couple weeks ago. Try to imagine I’m in a room ten times bigger than this. Behind me is all windows. Outside the windows – so I’m standing in front of the windows – outside the windows are snowcapped mountains, and in between them are glaciers feeding a glacier lake that is right behind me. Have any of you ever been to Alaska before? So I’m standing in Homer where Tom Bodett is from, the guy that does Motel Six. And I’m talking, and I notice that all of a sudden, none of the eyes, hundreds of eyes, none of the eyes in the room are on me or the screen anymore. They’re looking right past me, and I’m thinking, “Something’s going on out there.”
So I turned, and a seal had come up out of this glacier lake with a halibut the size of a Volkswagon hood. I mean it was, honest to God, it was this big. And bald eagles were dive bombing the seal, taking bites from the halibut. I was living a Disney movie. I’m not kidding you. It was just an amazing thing, and after we left that speech, we were driving down the road, bald eagles were sitting on light posts and [inaudible] and there’s a group of twenty-five of them on the ground with crows and things behind them trying to get what drops out of their mouth. I mean, it’s pretty amazing. Pretty amazing sight.
But having said that, when I started in this job – and Rod, you don’t have to shake your head on this one – when I started in this job, I had three vice presidents who were great professionals. They were terrific in the business, they understood the business, they were long-time experts in the business. In fact, one of them had been the interim president two or three or I don’t know how many times as they were selecting new presidents. I came in there, and I said, “Okay, we’re going to change, because we’re going to go out of business.” And every meeting, when the four of us sat together, they all shook their head. Absolutely. Great idea. I love it, man. Great idea.
In fact, one used to hug me all the time. She’d say, “Great idea! Let’s go do it. Let’s go do it.” And then we’d go to Rod’s former boss’s office and they would meet in there, and they would say, “To hell with this guy. He’s nuts. We are not going to cooperate.” So that picture depicted my first year on the job. That would be me, the lead dog, being choked, and that’s them digging their paws in behind. And that happens all the time in leadership. It happens all the time.
And I will tell you something that a wise man that [inaudible] used to hire told me, and he said that ten percent of people, no matter what, ten percent of people, no matter what, will never, ever, ever make the change. And sometimes it’s better to deal with that ten percent right up front, because they’re just not going to do it. They refuse to do it. I was just at a conference a couple weeks ago, and the guy that invented monster.com was talking about web 2.0, and he was talking about social media and what’s going all with all the different – LinkedIn and Facebook – and he said to everybody in the room – I would say it to you right now, but you’re not awake enough to do this yet – he said, “Everybody here in the room,” there were a thousand people, “take off your right shoe and hold it in the air.” And all these shoes went up in the air, and he says, “Okay, make [inaudible] with that shoe.” [Inaudible], shaking their shoes around, and these are all adult healthcare executives, right? And he does this for about five minutes. He says, “Okay, put your shoes down.” Then he goes, “You never put your shoe in the air. Why not? And you, you didn’t put your shoe in the air. You, you didn’t put your shoe in the air. Why didn’t you put your shoe in the air?” And he got answers like, “Well, you know, I didn’t feel comfortable doing it,” and blah blah blah.
And he said, “You know what? Find a new job.” That’s what he said. Now, what was he really saying? Resistant to change. Afraid. Didn’t want to participate in this thing. There are five hundred million people on Facebook. No. Yes. Five hundred million. It’s the fourth largest country in the world now. Facebook is the fourth largest country in the world. Five hundred million people. If you don’t think that social media is here, you didn’t take your shoe off. You’re missing it. It’s going past you so fast. And his point was it’s there. You may not want to participate. You may not think it’s something that’s important to you. You may not think it’ll help your company. You may not think that it’s going to be good in any way for you, but the reality is, phew!
Two years ago, I was hired to make a series of speeches at a newspaper company that knew they were going out of business. They knew it. It’s all gone digital. Couldn’t get enough money for putting it on the internet. They’d just laid off half their reporters. They know – they could see the future. The future is here. It’s now. What will the new world order look like? They don’t know. And so my presentations to them were on how do you take the assets that you have and deal with the change you need to make? And that’s really what this all comes down to. Because things change so fast, and they change, sometimes, very dramatically. Overnight. It’s interesting, because you see things happening, and it’s like nah, no, it’s not going to happen. It’s not going to catch on. Well, it catches on. I hate to do this, but I’m going to read this to you. The only reason I hate to is I hate to read and have things on the screen, so if you want to look down, you don’t have to look at it. But I’ll read this to you, because I think this is really important.
One day, through the primeval wood, a calf walked home, as good calves should, and made a trail all bent askew, a crooked trail, as all calves do. So you’ve got this little calf, and he’s out for a walk. And he’s a calf. And he’s not an intellectual calf, he’s not a philosophically based calf. He’s a calf. He’s just like, doing his thing. He’s walking home and he’s walking through the woods. Since then, two hundred years have fled, and I infer this calf is dead. But still, he left behind his trail, and thereby hangs his moral tale. The trail was taken up next day by a lone dog that passed that way. So he had the calf, went for a walk, pushed down the grass, made some headway through the woods. The dog sees a path.
Again, the dog is not committed to analyzing the shortest distance between two points. The dog follows the calf. You got me? You going with me on this okay? Everybody’s good. And then a wise bell weather sheep pursued the trail or [inaudible] and steep, and drew the flock behind him, too, as good bell weathers always do. So we have a calf, we have a dog, and now we have a whole flock of sheep, and they’re following this original path. And from that day, o’er hill and glade, through those old woods a path was made, and many men wound in and out and dodged and turned and bent about and uttered words of righteous wrath.
So we have, now, men following the calf, the dog, the sheep, and they’re cursing, and they’re saying, “What the heck? Look at this. This is crazy.” But they’re still following it. You got me? Because some of you live on roads like this; I know you do. It’s funny.
I was in Iowa two weeks ago, and I said I had a boss from Iowa once, and he said there was a difference between going off the road in Iowa and going off the road in Pennsylvania. If you go off the road in Iowa, you either hit corn or soybeans and you’re okay. If you go off the road in Pennsylvania, you’re going to die. So we got these calf paths that are made into roads. And still they follow, do not laugh, the first migrations of that calf. And through this winding wood way stocked because he wobbled when he walked, this forest path became a lane that bent and turned and turned again. This crooked lane became a road where many a poor horse with his load toiled on beneath the burning sun and traveled some three miles in one. And thus a century and a half they trod the footsteps of that calf. The years passed on, and swift as fleet, the road became a village street, and this, before men were aware, a city’s crowded thoroughfare, and soon the central street was this of a renowned metropolis, and men two centuries and a half trod in the footsteps of that calf. Each day, a hundred thousand route follow the zig zag calf about, and where his crooked journey went the traffic of a continent. A hundred thousand men were led by one calf near three centuries dead. They followed, still, his crooked way, and lost one hundred years a day, for thus such reverence is lent to well established precedent. A moral lesson this might teach were I ordained and called the priest, for men are prone to go it blind along the calf paths of the mind.